Opinion: The truth about autism

Logan King, Staff Writer

Do you ever feel out of place from the rest of the world, like you are isolated from everyone else and it may be because you are different? This is a common feeling for those who are under the autism spectrum, which is a neurodevelopmental disorder that affects social interactions and communications. It is even more difficult for autistic individuals to feel socially accepted when society commonly carries many misconceptions towards autism.

Misconception #1: Autism has the same effects towards everyone.

Autism does vary from person to person. Some might speak quietly, while others might speak loudly. Some may rarely speak, and others may speak too much. Autism is a spectrum that has many different types of autism, generally between low-functioning and high functioning. No one on Earth is exactly the same person, so the same should be said for autistics.

Misconception #2: Autism is a disease you can catch.
You cannot “catch” autism as if it was the common cold. It is either you are born with autism or you do not have it. Not even vaccines can give someone autism as some people believe. The misconception of autism being connected to vaccines began in 1998 from a doctor named Andrew Wakefield. He published data that seemingly proved his hypothesis that vaccines cause autism. This data was published for many years until investigators discovered that Wakefield committed acts of fraud by tampering his data. Since then, he has lost his medical license and his data has been retracted, but the misconception he developed still remains.

Misconception #3: Autistics are “retarded” or “stupid.”

One of the most hurtful misconceptions, there are people who believe having autism is the equivalent to being stupid. Actually many autistics have an average or slightly above average IQ. Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder that affects social interactions and not an intellectual disability. What a neurodevelopmental disorder means is that the brain’s neurons communicate with each other differently than most other brains. Autistics’ brains are wired differently than the average person, but that does not mean they are inferior.

Misconception #4: Autistic people can’t feel genuine emotions.

Being autistic does not mean a person is a sociopath. They can feel just as much emotion as everyone else, if not more. It is just that they express those emotions differently than others, thus people can be easily unaware of an autistic’s feelings. This misconception is also fueled by the belief that autistics are loners who do not want friends. Remember that autism is foremost a social disorder. It is not that they do not want to be with anyone; rather, it is they have greater difficulty with it.

Misconception #5: Autism is only present among kids
There are adults who has autism. The reason why this is believed is because the media tends to use toddlers as the poster children for autism. A kid will not outgrow or cure there autism as they reach adulthood, as it is something that will remain with them for the rest of their lives. Like many children growing up, an autistic child would learn to mature in time. Though the path an autistic child may take is different, an important part of it requires them to learn to live with their autism.

Misconception #6: Autism is completely BAD!
Finally, the biggest misconception towards the autism spectrum is that it is an entirely bad thing. Although autism has been labeled as a disorder, there are benefits to having autism, such as an excellency in visual thinking since autistics tend to think in clear mental images. Autistics can also tend to see the world differently than most people.

There are even some groups who believe that autism is not a disability, but rather a different ability. Remember that autistics are still people, and they can live normal lives like everyone else. Although it can be difficult, strong relationships are possible for autistics.

If you know anyone who is under the autism spectrum, do not hold any of the previous misconceptions against them. Even if you somehow use these false facts with good intentions, this will most likely hurt an autistic person’s feelings or the image that people view him or her as.